25 years is a long time to wait for anything. Yet fans of the San Jose Sharks, the Bay Area’s National Hockey League franchise, have waited the entire length of the franchise’s history for an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Saturday night the Sharks face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the series. Despite their team being down 0-2, screaming teal-clad fans will fill the SAP Center, clutching inflatable Stanley Cups, sporting faces painted with sharp white shark teeth. Their soundtrack will be the theme from “Jaws.” Duh, nuh…. Duh, nuh…
But some fans are coming to see one player, in particular.
The most interesting man in hockey
Despite suffering through back-to-back playoff season disappointments, the Sharks fan base is stronger than ever, inspired by success from Hall of Fame-bound veterans, a deep bench and rookie talent not seen since Patrick Marleau was, well, a rookie.
There are playoff beards, and then there is the bushy, unkempt, everyday beard of defenseman Brent Burns. With 6’4” of muscles, tattoos and a big space in his mouth where two teeth used to be, his penchant for bright plaid suits is only overshadowed by his strength and speed as the NHL’s top scoring defenseman (only the fourth defenseman in 20 years to score more than 25 goals, according to Sports Illustrated). His ability to rip off a shot before the opponent can blink is one reason the Sharks have made it farther in the playoffs than ever before. Sports Illustrated calls him “the most interesting man in the NHL.”
The cars of Burnzie88
Burns lives in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, a quick drive from both the Shark Tank and Sharks Ice practice rinks. Parked alongside his stone-covered house is a massive RV (interior pictured above) that his family uses to tour North America in the off-season. Burns is often spotted in his white Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and a matte-black Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van tooling home after home games. His eclectic car collection says a lot about Burns as a family man, a badass, and a human interested in the world around him.
— Ryan 🍩 (@RdBannon) May 16, 2016
Snakes, Chewbacca and Chia Pet
Widely known for his love of reptiles — he once had a collection of more than 300 snakes — Burns frequently posts pictures of himself on Twitter with interesting specimens.
Selected for the second year in a row for the NHL’s All Star game, he took to the ice dressed like Chewbacca, a nod to his everyday look of bushy beard, missing teeth and wild hair. His look is so distinctive the Sharks turned it into one of the most popular all time promotional nights with a Brent Burns Chia Pet, which you can still find on eBay for about $100.
In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Burns’ agent addresses his “ZFL” or “Zest for Life” referring to his interest in the world around him, his wide range of hobbies, and desire to tour North America on the road. The general manager who drafted him said, “These are passions. They’re not normal passions, but they’re passions.”
Find your own zest for life
Luckily, if you’re not the type to dress up as a Wookie, you can still get out and explore the country. While it’s unlikely that hockey fans will find Burns’ Mercedes Sprinter van on Turo, they can get similar style and performance from one of Tim’s Mercedes G-Class wagons or a rugged ride in one of Ekaterina’s Jeep Wranglers.
Channel your inner Brent Burns, let your hair get wild, and hopefully avoid any snake pits.